The Landscape and Architecture of British Post-War Infrastructure

communications mastA one-day conference at the Manchester School of Architecture
15th February 2019

Supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
Keynote Speaker: Elain Harwood (Historic England)

Infrastructure is popularly conceived as a form of material production assigned to technological advancement. However, it is not exclusively a techno-centric endeavour, it is constituted by built artefacts designed through collaboration by those with more than simply an interest in its engineering. Infrastructure has the capacity to reveal much about the society in which it was produced – the political economy of infrastructure; the socio-cultural effects of infrastructure; the formal and visual impact of infrastructure and attitudes to its celebration or containment.

In the post-war period large-scale projects were manifest according to prevailing cultures, economy and policy drivers and the physically engineered landscapes that were produced signposted the rapid socio-economic and technological development following the cessation of conflict. The effect of such unprecedented and widespread infrastructural projects on both rural and urban landscapes was comparable to the impact of the industrial revolution in the UK. The enormity of the impact on the landscape was captured by leading British landscape theorist, Sylvia Crowe, who stated: ‘Our generation blames the industrialists of the nineteenth century bitterly for having destroyed so much of the landscape and left us a legacy of acres of ugly and derelict land, but this is nothing compared with the havoc we shall leave our descendants unless we take avoiding action now and find a mean of reconciling our need for power with our need for a landscape fit to live in’.[1] The scope of the work not only impacted on the physical landscape, but also the collaborative roles of architecture, landscape architecture, engineering and planning professionals. Co-operation and co-production were key in the British context and this mode of working informed new ideas and methods which in turn produced exceptional landscape compositions.

This multi-disciplinary conference, supported by the Paul Mellon Centre and hosted at the Manchester School of Architecture, will explore the relationships between landscape and architectural design in the production of infrastructure. We are interested in form, type, material, topography, composition and the relationships of these topics with the socio-cultural, political and economic settings of the post-war period. We invite papers that explore these themes through alternative disciplinary lenses and methods in history, geography, environmental science, urbanism, planning, architecture and landscape.

Please send an abstract of 300-500 words to by 5th October 2018.

The selected participants will be informed of the acceptance of their paper on, or before, 26th October 2018. We anticipate the development of an edited volume following the conference.

[1]Crowe, S. (1958) The Landscape of Power (London: The Architectural Press) p.10.

Further information and contact details….